Saturday, 23 June 2012

Vintage Crafts at Nine Lives

I have been teaching 'Vintage Crafts'  at a venue called Nine Lives in Rickmansworth. Isn't that a great name for a charitable organisation that takes old furniture and household objects and then trains people to transform them with re upholstering and painting to make great  saleable items? Giving them a new life!

The place is a treasure trove of ever changing, fab vintage items and I can't resist having a poke around when ever I am there!

Anyway... the course , for Community Learning Partnership, has been all about taking recycled and new materials and vintage techniques and learning to update them to  use textiles to make lovely gifts.

This week we having been learning applique techniques to make a mini quilt or fabric picture. I decided to make a bowl of cupcakes!  We then decorate them with stitch and buttons and beads. Good enough to eat! 

Almost! Ha ha.

Back to my Arty Roots

I recently heard my much loved and first  textiles and embroidery tutor talking about my work and heard her say that she didn't think I did much hand stitching these days. Well I do have a needle in my hand most days, but what she meant was that I used to do work that was so stitched that the work was all about the stitching and the layers of texture and colour that it gave to the pieces.

Well, it made me yearn a bit for some of that stuff that I seem to be too busy to do these days. It made me abandon all the housework once again and I spent every spare moment of a whole week working on this!

It is based on the study of Lichen in the landscape; on branches and old walls. The textures and colours of moss and lichen, when you look closely at them, are so surprising and beautiful that I have been known to stop in my tracks and stare. Trying to absorb and remember them for capturing in stitch or in some arty adventure.

Below are some closer details that show the stitchery a bit more clearly. You can also see the colours of the gorgeous space dyed silk and wool threads and the hand dyed silk laps that give it even more dimension.

You can also see the stitches. There are just about 5 different stitches in this piece but when they are used with a variety of different thickness of thread and in all kinds of scale they are enough to give amazing texture.

My learners seem to be craving hand stitching more and more these days. I have had to alter some of my lesson plans to include whole sessions that are devoted to just learning and playing with stitch. Yay! Welcome back stitchery! I have missed you and will be doing more soon!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Granny Squares: not just for Grannies!

Last Saturday my friend Elizabeth from the Community Learning Partnership treated me to a fab workshop in Intermediate Crochet with Nicki Trench who is the author of more scrummy books on crochet than we could count! We used Rooster and Debbie Bliss yarns which are just so beautiful they made what ever we crocheted look lovely.

I had wanted to learn to crochet for ages and a couple of years ago my fab stitch and bitch  buddy Camilla (of  Lovely&Lovely) who is brilliant at crochet taught us all how to begin. 

I wanted to learn how to make flowers and Granny Squares and with a bit of practice and guidance learned how to go round and round in all kinds of different ways to make flowers BUT the whole squarey thing of having corners totally eluded me and I decided I wasn't ever going to be able  to do it. 

Anyway, I was really happy doing flowers and always had a crochet hook and some yarn with me in my bag so I kind of forgot about being Granny Square challenged!

I made a LOT of flowers in all kinds of different threads and wools and cotton and silk....!

Well Nicki changed all that! With great patience and by showing me how to read a crochet pattern, I succeeded! Here is my first EVER square!! I am so happy.

She then taught me a different flower and a spiral rose! I can feel more flowers coming on but this time there will be some squares amongst them and I may even start a little cushion cover.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Space Dyeing Heaven!

When we both had small children, my friend Moira and I used to set aside a day every year when we would find all the white cotton and silk fabrics  and threads and braids that we had stashed and we would spend a heavenly day space dyeing them into luscious colours. We used to buy neutral coloured things to keep for dyeing days. So if we ever saw silk velvet or linen threads or great cotton sewing yarns we would add them to our stash and keep them ready!

There is nothing quite as unpredictably exciting as throwing  dyes onto a pile of all kinds of threads and seeing them do their magic.  

Life has got so busy that we haven't done this for about 3 years but on Friday we finally both managed to find half  a day when we could  have one of our special sessions and we both had a really great time.

So here is how we started:  Two of the trays of undyed stash...

You can see that I dyed some things that were beautifully textured  but not exciting in colour at all!

This next photo is of the threads with the dyes spaced at intervals for the colours to merge together for a red based batch. And one of the green batch  merged in the dye bath.

Would you like to see the results??

There are crochet doileys, silk velvet, cotton scrim, Broderie Anglaise cotton, and some cotton braid.

These are the silk and cotton threads. The colours are so much brighter in real life and the sheen on the silks is wonderful..

Aren't they fab? I love the way the true colours are only really visible when they are dry and then you can see the colours blended through the fabrics and cotton and silk threads.

This is the perfect way to spend a day when you have lost your creative mojo or when you just need to be inspired with colour. I can't wait to sew with these and use them in stitch projects, fabric books and with felt...... I may spend quite a while just stroking them though! Heavenly!